Swimmer Justin Finkel ’25 earns All-America honors with second-place NCAA finish
In the year since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, avid runner Joseph Walewski ’23 has run every street in two Connecticut towns: first his hometown of Fairfield, while Conn was remote last spring, and now Conn’s home city of New London.
On March 24, less than one week before he would resume training with his track and cross country teammates, Walewski ran the last remaining route through New London. As three of his teammates cheered, he crossed the “finish line”—Conn’s main entrance—having run all 352 streets (totaling 64 miles in length) since in-person classes resumed in the fall.
“Since it’s not possible to be 100% efficient due to dead ends and having to run some roads multiple times, I estimate I ran around 200 miles to complete the challenge,” he said.
“My favorite part was the runs to the beach. I live only a mile away from the water back home, so there I go beach-running all the time. At Conn, the shortest beach run is nine miles, so it's definitely a rarer treat here. In fact, doing the challenge led me to create a workout loop that goes down one of my favorite streets from the whole challenge, Montauk Ave.”
While New London is just 1/6th the size of Fairfield (Walewski ran all 292 miles of his hometown’s 1,125 streets between March and August, 2020), New London presented its own challenges. Conn is situated at the northernmost edge of the city—Walewski’s dorm room is only 400 meters from the Waterford town line—meaning almost all routes include duplicate streets. The campus is also one of the highest points in the city, meaning every run ends in an uphill battle.
Then there were the roads that proved impossible to run, since, it turns out, they don’t exist at all.
“One really unique aspect of the challenge here is that New London, for some reason, has a lot of ‘paper roads.’ These are roads that don't actually exist but are marked on maps to protect against copyright, because if two maps have the same paper roads, then it's very likely one plagiarized the other,” Walewski said.
“In my hometown, I realized three roads shown on Google maps don't actually exist. Despite New London having only 1/4th the number of streets, it has 10 paper roads. This caught me off guard a few times when I'd plan a route only to get to the area in real life and have it look, at times, quite different from what I had seen on the maps!”
While Walewski enjoyed both challenges, he says he is ecstatic to be training with his teammates again and is looking forward to competing with the outdoor track and field team this spring. The biochemistry major says he currently has no plans to tackle another whole town, but he hints that he just might have a new challenge for himself this summer.
“Stay tuned!” he said.